The actor talks Max’s future on the final season, and why her character and Elaine Benes have more in common than you might think.
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After so many Stranger Things episodes centered on Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Max (Sadie Sink) finally got to take center stage in season 4. Reeling from the loss of her brother, the flame-haired skater retreats from her friends and cuts things off with her boyfriend, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). Her only companion is a Walkman—which has the cassette tape containing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” She listens to the song so much that even though she’s kept her friends at bay, they know it’s the one song that could save her life—and, they hope, theirs. (Viewers have also been listening to it on repeat, to the point where, 37 years after its release, it hit No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200 chart several times following the Netflix series’ season 4 premiere.)
Stranger Things—which, as the costumes make clear, takes place in the ’80s—isn’t the only way Sink gets her nostalgia fix. The 20-year-old actor has also been revisiting Seinfeld. Here, she makes the case for her similarity to Max and reflects on her character’s past, present, and future.
What was your reaction to the news that the Duffer Brothers [who cocreated Stranger Things] originally planned for the season to end with Max dying?
I didn’t know until someone told me about the interviews. They never really tell us what’s going to happen until we get the scripts, and when I got the script for episode 9, it said that Max dies but that she sort of comes back. It’s uncertain, but she’s not fully dead. I didn’t know the plan was to completely kill me off, which definitely would’ve been a very impactful ending. They’ve been saying in interviews that Max’s state at the end of season 4 is intentional, crucial, and calculated in terms of how it’s going to come to play in season 5—I guess. I know nothing.
What did you think was going to happen to Max before you read the script?
Season 4 was a wild journey for her. I definitely knew nothing good would happen, but I was not expecting this—this was a crazy, crazy end. I thought either she was going to succeed in a really epic way, or it would be her downfall, and I guess we landed somewhere in the middle.
You had to pause filming the season for more than half a year during lockdown. How much did Max stick with you during that break?
I definitely needed that time because of the state Max is in in season 4. That sense of isolation she feels is something we could all relate to coming out of quarantine, so having a lot of time by myself was good. By the time we returned to season 4, we were all really hungry to get back to work, so there was this determination and excitement on set. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be to get back into the groove of filming after such a long break.